Let’s go straight to the core of the problem…

Most accountants, bookkeepers and CPAs think it’s wrong to sell accountancy services.

They think that somehow, to sell to their clients the services they need, is either unethical or beneath a trained professional. 

It’s as though the qualification you received made you exempt from selling; something that humans have been doing since the beginning of time. 

It wasn’t that long ago that accounting firms weren’t even allowed to market themselves. And that legacy has persisted so that now, many firms still see selling as somehow against the rules and unprofessional. 

But selling isn’t just about money. 

We’re selling all of the time. 

You sell the idea of why your clients need to file their tax return on time. 

You sell them the benefits of using cloud software over desktop software. 

You sell them the accuracy of data so they can make more informed, timely decisions. 

So, if you would passionately and legitimately stand up for why it’s right to ‘sell’ in all of these cases, why is it wrong to sell them the services they need too?

Is it because the accounting industry’s perception of selling and how to do it professionally and ethically, is out of date? 

Is it because it’s wrongly assumed that if you’re selling, you’re trying to get money from people who don’t want to give it or don’t have it? 

Has it, in fact, got nothing to do with this and everything to do with how selling would make you feel if you were to get it wrong? 

Or is it to do with the fact that you were led to believe that when you got your qualifications, people would just drop at your feet and say yes to everything you had to offer, just because of your expertise? 

Or is it a bit of all of these? 

Let’s dig deeper…

A Client’s problem isn’t their REAL problem

Your clients face one very real problem and it’s never the one they tell you about. 

So, what most firms do is listen to the problem the client presents them with, and then attempt to sell them services to solve that problem. 

The firm may be smarter than that and may use a consultative sales process such as our GLOSS Method® to dig deeper with their clients and uncover even bigger problems. 

But rarely do they ever get to what the real problem is. 

I propose that the real problem is that they can’t decide what to do about their problem. 

Most people just can’t decide. And if they’re really struggling financially and have pain associated with the finance function of their business or with their previous accountant, this is made even worse. All of these factors corrode the confidence they have in their decision-making ability. 

And if you were to offer your client three choices about which set of services they’d prefer, you plunge them into a world of procrastination. 

Giving them too many choices fills them with fear and doubt about making the wrong decision.

Your clients can live with financial pain, but they can’t live with the uncertainty that comes with taking risk.

And starting to work with you or taking on that additional service represents risk.

You see, we’re never trained in how to make good decisions and how to be comfortable with taking risk (which is what a client is doing when choosing to work with you or to buy more from you.)

selling accountancy services - image of scales balancing money and risk - GoProposal - Accountants

The trap you can fall into is believing that because you are qualified and you know what you’re doing, then you don’t have to sell.

But your clients are not as interested in your qualifications as you are, they are interested in themselves.

In fact, the reality is that many of them don’t know what you do. They’ve either believed in the adverts from the accounting software companies and think it’s all just a click of a button now, right? Or they think that accounting is just so complicated (and all about confusing maths and unfathomable reports and spreadsheets,) that they just don’t want to consider what you do. Either way, one thing’s for sure… your clients and prospects aren’t really sure what you do. 

So now we’re getting close to the real problem…

If they’re unsure, it means they’re uncertain.

If they’re uncertain, they’re unlikely to decide until they’re made to feel more certain. And that’s all we’re really trying to do when we sell, which is to help them to feel more certain about their decision to work with you or to buy more from you.

But something else is required to help more clients to make that decision in the first place. 

The thing they need is certainty in the outcome and this is only achieved when they’re sold to, in a way that is ethical and professional and makes them feel good about what you’re going to do for them. 

Before you can help your clients to improve the finance function of their business or to file their personal tax return, you must first help them to make a decision. 

To sell is to help people to make better decisions faster. It’s not about taking money from people. This is an important distinction you must make when selling your accountancy services. When you do that, you will feel more confident in selling. 

Change your view that ‘selling is about how to take money from your clients.’ Instead, replace it with the view that ‘selling is about helping them to feel confident in spending the money they need to invest in building a more financially sound business.’ 

Start to reinterpret what you think of as ‘selling’, to be solving your client’s real problem, which is their inability to decide. When you do, you will serve a lot more people to a much higher level. 

Selling is your ethical obligation. You must get comfortable with this.

If you avoid selling somebody something that they really need, such as your accountancy services, whose interests are you really putting first?

If you want more information about implementing a consultative sales system for selling your accountancy services, you can download The GLOSS Method® below for free.

James Ashford

James Ashford

James is the Founder of GoProposal, Director of MAP., Keynote Speaker & Bestselling Author of "Selling to Serve". He helps accountants and bookkeepers around the world to price more profitably, sell more confidently and to give significantly more value to their clients.

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